Explore / District of Akkar

Tell Aarqa is well known for its height. It comprises between 30 to 40 meters of accumulated fragments of ancient ruins. Its area is not more than 4,5 Hectares. At its peak, it is 147 meters high. It overlooks the valley and reveals a panoramic view from Tripoli to Arwad Island in Syria. Excavations in Aarqa, which began in 1970, uncovered structures that date back to the Canaanite period (the Bronze Age 300, 1200 B.C.) until the Mamluk period. Aarqa played an important role in the history of the district. It is mentioned more than once in the Bible and the texts that go back to the second millennium as well as in Assyrian texts that date back to the first millennium B.C. During the Roman period it was named the Tsarist of Lebanon because the Roman emperor, Alexander Severus was born in it (205B.C.) It was privileged by the emperor and it was between 40 and 50 hectares. At the end of the 4th century, it became surrounded by stony walls, and huge square towers were built. After the Islamic conquest, Aarqa became an important fortress owned by "Benou Aammar" (governors of Tripoli). Later it was captured by the Crusaders in 1108 to be taken later by the Mamluk Sultan, Baibars, in 1266. The Crusade occupation left important ruins on the Tell. To the Crusader wall which partly stands today, four square towers were added fortified by a trench,a front wall and a glacis. The wall was almost completely destroyed to provide stones for structures built in Tripoli during the Mamluk period, and it also provided stones for the neighbouring towers later on.

The Old Akkar
Near the old Akkar town lies a castle situated over a rocky protrusion at a height of 694 meters. It was built by Mihriz, a citizen from Akkar, at the end of the 10th century. The Crusaders captured it during the second century, but it was seized by the Mamluk Sultan Baibars in 1271 after capturing "Hosn al Fursan" in Syria. At the beginning of the Ottoman period, it was ruled by feudalists named "Banu Sifa", and in 1618 Emir Fakhreddine destroyed a part of it. It is said that he took some of its stones to Deir el Qamar. This castle (210 meters long, 70 meters wide) used to be a strategic spot in the district of Akkar. It was surrounded by five rectangular towers. Inside it there were two halls separated by a tunnel. The upper floor contains a vaulted pond. The upper part of the tower carries a frieze of lions that dates back to Sultan Baibars' time, who repaired it during the 13th century.

It contains many archeological sites; rocky necropolis and ancient cemeteries built of heavy stones as well as remains of Roman temples. In Mount Hussein, there are two temples adjacent to each other. Only the temple which lies in the northern part of the site is still preserved. It contains a vault that separates the precinct from the sarcophagus. That is why there is a possibility of turning it into a church although it is oriented toward the west. Near this temple there are the remains of another larger temple. Inside and around it there are the remains of Corinthian friezes and chapters of columns as well as protrusions.

In Wadi es Sebaa (Valley of the Lion), there are two obelisks that date back to the new Babylonian period. The first represents someone whose head is covered with a crown, confronting a lion that is standing on its rear feet. Beneath this site, in Sheer el Sanam, there is another obelisk carved in the rock. The bottom protrusion shows a king oriented to the right. In his right hand, he carries something which cannot be identified. In the left one, there is a sceptre. There are other divine symbols like the star of Astarte which has seven sections and a crescent.


In the district of the shrine of god or (Home of Gelouk), there are remains of a small temple built of basalt stones dating back to the first century A.D. It is also known as Nemsis (the goddess of fortune and fate). There are inscriptions in Greek; one of them was done by the bishop Drusus on a pedestal of a statue in 262 A.D. During the Byzantine period it was turned into a church. The water pipes were preserved; they are north of the temple near a river and date back to the Roman period. In Menjiz, there is Saydet al Qalaat Church, which was built in 1890 A.D., over the ruins of an ancient European castle, the remains of which can be hardly discerned.

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